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Annual Rail Trends

This is the 31st edition of Rail Trends, the Railway Association of Canada’s annual report on the performance of Canada’s railway industry. This publication contains a rolling 10-year review of financial and statistical results, reflecting multiple aspects of railway performance in Canada. This edition covers the 2013 to 2022 period.

Rail Trends 2023: Pulling for Canada

Canada’s railways are pulling for Canada. Day in, day out, more than 35,000 dedicated railroaders work tirelessly to deliver for Canadians and the Canadian economy. That was as true in 2022 as it has ever been.

Despite several challenges, including the reintroduction of COVID-related public health restrictions early in the year, lingering global supply chain issues, and high diesel fuel costs, Canada’s railways persevered. They added jobs, increased the diversity of their workforces, boosted ridership, maintained freight rates that are amongst the lowest anywhere, led in supply chain performance, set records in fuel efficiency, and paid a record amount of taxes to Canadian governments supporting social programs we all rely on.

Canadian railways remained reliable links in integrated supply chains. Canadian freight railways transported half of our country’s exports in 2022 and a total of more than $380 billion worth of goods. In 2022 (and every year throughout the pandemic) Canadian Class 1 railways’ average terminal dwell time remained below eight hours. Yet Canadian ports’ average terminal dwell time more than doubled, from 72 hours in 2019 to 158 hours in 2022, and global marine vessel on-time performance decreased from 78% to 42%.

Rail freight rates remained amongst the most competitive in the world, at just 4.07 cents per revenue tonne-kilometre. In 2022, rising fuel costs were a significant driver of inflation and railways were not immune. Despite a 64.1% increase in the cost of diesel fuel for Canadian railways, rail freight rates increased by just 14.1%—providing stability for shippers, limiting consumer impacts, and driving the Canadian economy. The increase in rail freight rates was much lower than the 22.9% increase in truck transportation prices and the 26.8% increase in
commodity prices.

In 2022, Canadian railways set a record for taxes paid to federal and provincial governments—more than $2.2 billion. They also invested $2.4 billion into their Canadian assets, bringing the total to over $21.5 billion over the past decade. These investments in track, rolling stock, technology, and other equipment improve the safety, capacity, efficiency, and fluidity of Canadian supply chains. Railways remain the backbone of Canada’s economy.

In 2022, Canada’s railways employed more people, supported more jobs, increased wages, and improved the diversity of their workforces. Railways created good jobs, they increased employment by 3.2% and the average industry wage by 2.2% to $104,443. Railways made progress on their commitments to diversity, equity, and inclusion. In 2022, the representation of women, persons with disabilities, visible minorities, and Indigenous peoples employed in the rail industry all increased. RAC is now collecting information on diversity representation in leadership teams and on boards of directors.

Safety is job one for every railway and every railroader. Thanks to high levels of investment and commitment to safety culture, in 2022, both the freight accident rate and the dangerous goods accident rate were below the 2017–2021 average.

In 2022, railways continued to build upon their status as the most fuel-efficient means of ground transportation and helped Canada progress on its emissions reduction targets. Total railway fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions were reduced by 0.7%. Freight fuel efficiency improved by 1.1% to 711 revenue ton-miles per gallon—setting another consecutive record. Various initiatives contributed to these improvements, including investments in locomotive fleet
modernization, fuel saving technologies, and low-carbon fuels, as well as improved operational practices and training employees to optimize fuel efficiency.

Railways are living their commitment to continuously invest, innovate, and improve as they continue to pull for Canada.

Contact Us
For more information please contact:
Jonathan Thibault

Download the Previous Rail Trends Reports